Saturday, November 26, 2011

AFTER-LFE

With my new book, "Mind Work," now finally copy-edited and ready for the publisher, I'm thinking of engaging a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time--perhaps because I'm already well on the path toward the end of life. The question as to what happens to us living beings after our physical bodies give out is a fascinating and, I know, unanswerable one. One reasons I have given myself for not having been able to fully embrace the Buddhist faith is that the full embrace seems to necessitate a belief in rebirth--a concept I have found incredibly hard to wrap my head around. But I am not entirely happy, either, with the belief that the end of life as we know it is nothing more than a full stop. It makes the most rational sense, I know--but reason is not everything. Far from it. Why insist that our earthly, scientific wisdom is unbounded? There's every reason to believe that, indeed, it is extremely limited.

This train of thought has to do, in part, with the arrival of our new grandson, Luka Yves. I loved the suggestion of a fellow-blogger, when I first wrote about his birth, that I should ask the newborn where he came from. She thinks there might be a small window of opportunity when the baby still remembers; and, holding baby Luka and looking into his glowing little face, I did myself think about this very question. Indeed, quietly, I asked him. But I had no idea how to communicate the question other than in thought, or to understand his answer if there was one. I am not possessed of the requisite intuitive skills--or, if I am so possessed, have no idea how to put them to use. But my friend's suggestion reminded me of a workshop I once took with a Huichol Indian shaman, who said that in their tribe the custom is not to "give" a newborn child a name as we do in our culture, but to wait and ask the baby, "Tell me who you are." I like the idea.

Last week, a new book came into my hands, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. It's called--surely not coincidentally--"The Truth of Rebirth." I'm looking forward to finding out more about this subject from the Theravadan point of view. Meantime, I also plan to revisit other teachings about the after-death, including the Christian ones with which I was brought up. I'll be thinking about my own mother and father, their ashes resting side by side in the grave plot close by a tiny church overlooking the Cardigan Bay, in Wales. I'll be reflecting on my own, single, but intense experience with the vision of past lives. And, to take things a little more lightly, I'm sure I'll be thinking about archy and mehitabel.

So this morning I'm wondering if there might be anyone out there, any reader of The Buddha Diaries, who has either thoughts or experience in this matter. Do you have your own personal convictions or theories? Do you know of past lives? Of communications from realms other than our own small world? I'd love to hear about them, and to incorporate them in my own thinking along the way. It can be done privately: my email address is PeterAtLarge@mac.com. Best thanks in advance to anyone who can help with this.

5 comments:

cyndavalle said...

dear peter,Story 1; I have a friend who had 2 sons. When one of the sons was 3 the son asked the dad if he would be with God after he died. The dad said "yes" and the son said; "it'll be good to see him (god) again"...
story 2; My mom will never allow herself to be hypnotized again because she was so traumatized by her one experience with it when she was encouraged to experience past lives... She remembers running in a panic and being overtaken by a rider on horseback. She described in detail the foot/boot in the stirrup which is what she could best see from her viewpoint/eye level. Than a feeling of absolute terror, than blackness. She has always (before and after) this experience felt a real connection to the lost tribes of the southwest u.s. She spent the years from 60 to 80 wandering the desert mesas alone (scaring the shit out of her kids) searching out old camps and artifacts. after a divorce and the loss of a daughter she said it was the only place she could find peace...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have always believed in reincarnation and even think it makes more sense than living only once, which would be wasteful of energy which is clearly educable. I believe we come into each incarnation with specific lessons to learn, and attract to ourselves the life experiences that will allow us to learn them. Science teaches that matter never ceases to exist, but merely transmutes itself.

I'm sure you have had the feeling of great familiarity upon meeting a new person on occasion. We all have. It seems likely that they are entities we have known before, in previous lifetimes. My present marriage partner is such a being, and we both remember flashes of our previous well-realized life together as Plains Indians with many children.

The Cherokee, too, do not name a child until he/she is about 4 years old and the tribe and child know who he is. It's not exactly the same as waiting for the child to tell his name, but similar. And we all know how tulkus are identified, including the next Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.

I'm so glad you've begun trying to determine who your Luka Yves was before because you are sure to both develop your intuition and to catch the moment when he is able to verbalize it before he submits to this present life completely with its requisite amnesia. Please keep us posted on all developments along this line, Peter.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for these comments, both. I'll be bearing them in mind as I continue thinking about this fascinating theme. Thanks for being a part of the original impulse and yes, I'll keep you posted on The Buddha Diaries.

Marilyn Noad said...

Hi Peter,
I had a most odd experience today. I was in my car and stopped at a crossing. A little boy of about five was standing on the corner. When he saw me he whirled around and stared at me in utter fascination. He looked just like my dead husband who I loved dearly. I drove on and couldn't help thinking. Would he look like he did before it he were reborn? The night after her died he came to see me. I was not sleeping and not quite awake but in that state sometimes referred to as hpnogogic... also alpha I believe. He sat on the bed and looked at me with a beatific smile on his face. He was dressed in new clothing and looked wonderful. I think he came to reassure me that he was OK. I believe we survive in some form.... perhaps as an energy field.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thank you, Marilyn. This is a lovely story, and I appreciate very much that you entrusted me with it. I am keeping it in my file of responses, and will continue to hold it in mind.